Majority support higher road taxes to fund public transport services

The majority of people would accept higher road taxes in order to fund a better-connected public transport system, according to a survey from Hitachi Rail.

Approximately 8,073 respondents were surveyed in summer 2022 in London, Washington D.C., Toronto, Paris, Dusseldorf, Turin, Dubai and Bangkok.

The survey found that three-quarters of people would prefer to choose a better-connected public transport system, rather than driving.

However, 48 per cent of people said they were sometimes deterred from using the services due to overcrowding. Cost, convenience and comfort were also identified as the biggest motivators to use public services.

73 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to travel on public transport if they could see live information about crowding levels on services, rising to almost 9 in 10 people in Bangkok.

However, the move towards digitisation and adoption of apps presents barriers as well. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said they were put off from using public transport when they needed to use multiple different apps, with nearly of half people remaining unwilling to share their payment details with multiple travel apps.

This reticence was found to vary dramatically from country to country, with far lower trust in North America and the UK, compared to mainland Europe and Asia.

Across every city, the majority (averaging 71 per cent) said they now travel differently following the pandemic.

The research finds that people would also be prepared to pay more for better-connected public transport. When faced with the same option of a better-connected transport system but at a higher cost than driving, three in five people (60 per cent) still suggested that they would choose to travel this way.

63 per cent of people agreed that new or increased road charges would be a good way to fund public transport systems, with only 14 per cent against the idea. This is despite the fact that almost two-thirds of people (63 per cent) said they drive more post-pandemic.

Even in cities with the highest percentage of driving commuters, there was still a majority in favour of such taxes (51 per cent in Toronto and 52 per cent in Washington).

Ludmil Neykov, chief digital officer at Hitachi Rail, said: “Cities face significant pressure to reduce the cost of operating their transport networks, cut congestion and minimise CO2. This can be achieved by moving people out of their cars and onto public transport, which poses a significant challenge for many cities and for many reasons.

“Our research shows that three-quarters of people would use public transport more often if it was better-connected and more convenient and that access to a single smartphone app for the entire network would be preferable. From Turin to Paris, and from Toronto to Bangkok, we are ready to help cities to reduce costs, carbon and congestion through our digital systems and services.”

Following a dramatic decline in passengers since the pandemic, Transport for London has been forced to ask the government for additional funding multiple times just to keep it afloat.

In August 2022, it warned that bus services could be cut and ticket prices increased due to its funding deficit.

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